PHNOM PENH —
Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte is visiting Cambodia on a two-day diplomatic trip that will see the controversial world leader sign agreements on combating transnational crime with Prime Minister Hun Sen.
Duterte will first meet King Norodom Sihamoni before a bilateral meeting with Hun Sen.
Chum Sounry, spokesman for the Foreign Ministry, said the two world leaders would also discuss cooperation in the field of sports.
Ou Virak, president of the Future Forum think tank, said Duterte likely sees Cambodia as a proxy through which he can conduct diplomacy with China over the contested South China Sea region.
“Because of the intimate relationship between Cambodia and China, the Philippines can improve its relations with China through cooperating with Cambodia,” he said.
Duterte, 71, was elected in June on a platform to clampdown on the drugs trade. Since his election, thousands of people are thought to have been extra-judicially killed on suspicion of involvement with drugs.
On Monday morning, five Filipino protesters gathered at the Royal Palace to demonstrate against the killing, leaving after only a few minutes for fear of repercussions.
The protesters, who hid their identities, later issued a statement saying numerous innocent people had been caught up in Duterte’s war on drugs.
“This stupid action should be terminated… The killing of people outside of the judicial system is not the solution to the drug issue that originates from poverty and despair,” it read.